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Publisher's Summary

With the smart suspense of Emma Donoghue's Room and the atmospheric claustrophobia of Grey Gardens, Catherine Burns' debut novel, The Visitors, explores the complex truths we are able to keep hidden from ourselves and the twisted realities that can lurk beneath even the most serene of surfaces.
Marion Zetland lives with her domineering older brother, John, in a crumbling mansion on the edge of a northern seaside resort. A timid spinster in her 50s who still sleeps with teddy bears, Marion does her best to live by John's rules, even if it means turning a blind eye to the noises she hears coming from behind the cellar door...and turning a blind eye to the women's laundry in the hamper that isn't hers. For years she's buried the signs of John's devastating secret into the deep recesses of her mind - until the day John is crippled by a heart attack, and Marion becomes the only one whose shoulders are fit to bear his secret. Forced to go down to the cellar and face what her brother has kept hidden, Marion discovers more about herself than she ever thought possible. As the truth is slowly unraveled, we finally begin to understand: Maybe John isn't the only one with a dark side....
©2017 Catherine Burns (P)2017 Simon & Schuster, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By lacey on 10-23-17

wasted potential

I really loved and appreciated the literary value here--this book reads, at least for the first several chapters, as--well, what would you call it if it's southern gothic but you're not sure that it's set in the south--suburban gothic, maybe. It reads like Flannery O'Connor, Shirley Jackson, or Donna Tartt--that thick, beautifully overwrought sense of space and time, combined with a creeping sense of dread that you feel but can't name as it just gets darker and darker.

However, the real joy in O'Connor, Jackson, or Tartt is that they reward you--either with a crashing thundering climax, or with continuous character growth, or both--and this one didn't do that. Instead it floundered somewhere between repetitiveness, predictableness, frustration, and--well, just getting grosser and sadder--and, like other reviewers have said, when the climax came, it was too little, too late, and I really just wanted a shower. I'm left with uncomfortable flashbacks that I wish I didn't have, with nothing to ponder or chew on, and I wish I'd read something else.

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10 of 10 people found this review helpful


By Dana on 10-27-17

Wonderful, yet creepy insight into deranged minds!

I thoroughly enjoyed this story, I was taken in by Marion's imagination and her fantasies, and my heart actually went out to her - even when her dark side shows itself. Their mother was poison to these two siblings and it would be very interesting if the author could write another novel from John's perspective. Their father may have contributed to some of the deviance too but he's not mentioned much, so John's thought patterns would be interesting to tap into. (Hint hint Catherine Burns!) John's character truly did not believe he was doing anything wrong. I also liked the hint of the super-natural in this story when it mentioned psychics and the things revealed by them.
Another review said there was porn and unsettling things in this, but there isn't. Nothing is mentioned like that in any detail so if you're squeamish about that type of thing -don't worry! Overall an interesting but tragic story of how some people's minds can get so twisted and detached from reality.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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